Friday, September 5, 2008

Does Outsourcing Put Private Data at Risk?

Here's an angle that I didn't even think about in my original opposition to outsourcing: the risk of exposing private data. A partner at the Maryland firm of Newman, McIntosh & Hennessey, Joseph Hennessey, filed suit against Acumen Legal Services, a legal process outsourcing company based in India. The basis of the complaint:

Given that the federal government now monitors some communications between citizens here and foreign nationals, LPOs can't guarantee that a client's personal information is safe from such surveillance.

Hennessey voluntarily dismissed the suit in response to a motion filed by Acumen's legal team, but for him, the battle is still active.

Food for thought for proponents of outsourcing...



  1. Hi Christine,

    First let me say that I am a proponent of legal outsourcing.

    However, while I have the utmost respect for every logical argument against outsourcing - potential quality concerns, affect on employment in the US etc, if you wish your blog to come across as balanced and factually accurate you need to report on the Hennessey law suit from a less "one-sided" perspective.

    Trust me, as a clearly talented writer, from reading some of your posts, if you take the trouble to read through both the original complaint and the motion to dismiss you'll notice two things immediately.

    One - the complaint is preposterous and was never likely to see the light of day of a court room. This is why it was withdrawn, because Hennessey realized that he was "on to a definite loser".

    Second - the motion to dismiss is a significantly more lucid, higher quality piece of legal drafting.

    I can understand why this law suit attracted attention when it was initially filed. It was the first such challenge against the legal outsourcing industry and a hullaballoo was bound to follow. But when a motion to dismiss is filed, and the suit promptly withdrawn, to report this as "watch this space" rather than "spurious suit withdrawn" seems remarkably short sighted an approach.

    While being a major advocate of globalization and the benefits of outsourcing please understand that I am aware of its limitations and the potential side effects outsourcing has on employment here in the US - frankly the second concern is simply not one that from a personal perspective I am particularly bothered about, due to the fact that I feel it is impossible to turn the tide back, and ultimately, in the long run beneficial for the US economy to embrace outsourcing. However, I respect anyone's opinion on this point and I completely understand paralegals', law students', and young associates' concerns.

    Frivolous law suits, ultimately withdrawn when faced with the reality of legal argument - please report this accurately.

  2. Mark,
    Thank you for your feedback. However, as a very strong opponent of legal outsourcing, I disagree with you. The risks of outsourcing are numerous, and private data is at risk. Perhaps you should read The 'Cyber' Risks of Outsourcing, detailing just how data can be compromised. From a purely information security perspective, outsourcing is risky at best and downright irresponsible at worst.

    Secondly, in the long run it is most certainly not beneficial for the U.S. to embrace outsourcing in any capacity. Manufacturing, customer service, and tech support have already been shipped overseas, leaving many U.S. citizens unemployed. These jobs enable the U.S. to have a middle class, and if these jobs cease to exist in the U.S., our middle class will become extinct. Furthermore, consumers complain bitterly when they call tech support or customer service and cannot understand the person on the other end of the line. That is the perception of outsourcing by consumers, and that is what you wish to bring to the legal field?

    Finally, I have never claimed to be a fair and balanced source of news. If you want fair and balanced, go to the Fox News website. Mine is "news, views, and information," emphasis on views.

    Data privacy and outsourcing will continue to be a concern, and it is a "watch this space" issue.


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